Images of Serbia and the Balkans
in the last decade: a short
investigation conducted on the two
major Italian newspapers: ...
Christian Costamagna
PhD candidate in History
University of Eastern
Piedmont,Italy
Intern at the Institute for
Contemporar...
I

would like to thank the Institute for
Contemporary History of Belgrade, and in
particular the Director, Prof. dr. Momc...
Maria

Todorova in her book “Imagining the
Balkans” tried to map “Balkanism”, the
discourse that led to the negative
ster...
Parallel

to the image of the Balkans in the West,
we have a similar problem, the image of Serbia
and Serbs in the West, ...
 In

the following work I intended to focus on the
perception and images of Serbia and the Balkans on
the two major Itali...
My

goal is not to ascertain the historical
“truth” of those events. I will not question
the disputable knowledge of each...
Why

the last decade? I explicitly avoided the
war period. I think it can be even more
interesting to see the stereotypes...
If

we want to apply a macro level of analysis
of the events I chose, I think that the best
one is the path of Serbia tow...
In order to simplify the research, conducted on the free online
archives, using keywords, I selected some of the most
symb...
The

scope of this work is very limited and it
does not pretend to be exhaustive. It can’t
offer answers, but it can sugg...
Corriere

Repubblica

 Serbs



believes in
Santa Claus thanks to
Vojislav Kostunica “new
hero of democracy, new
saint, ...
Corriere


After Milosevic, the West feels
guilty towards the Serbs and
because of that feeling the West
is promising gre...
Corriere

Repubblica


 If an hypothetical
Nuremberg of the Balkans
will reveal that Milosevic
is not the evil, but just...
Corriere
 “After so many mistakes
committed by the West in
the old [SFRJ] Yugoslavia
we should help the Serbs
to get rid ...
Corriere
 Milosevic

considered
himself the protector of
all Serbs. In fact,
after he lose the power,
there are more Serb...
Corriere

Repubblica

 “Serbs,

 Serbian

instead,
defeat after defeat,
have been expelled
from Krajina, from
Mostar, Sa...
Corriere
 Djindjic was killed
because, with his
politics, he was the
“symbol of the West”.
Venturini can’t
exclude, in th...
Corriere
more you know the
Balkans, the less you
understand them”.
Serbia is a weak state,
a poor country,
forgotten after...
Corriere
◦ “The West don’t
trust Kostunica and
bet on Djindjic, who
speaks perfectly
German and studies
rapidly English. B...
Corriere


In Belgrade“Hate is in the
air” and the manifestation is the

expression of the failure of the
cohabitation of...
Corriere


the lack of a Western strategy
in the Balkans, give the
impression that both Great
Albania and Great Serbia ar...
Corriere


“In Bosnia and in Kosovo we
created two soft
protectorates”. Instead “of
giving Serbia dignity and
prosperity,...
Corriere


The sentence of History is
clear: the most responsible
for the carnage in the
Balkans are Slobodan
Milosevic, ...
Corriere
 “After the death of
Milosevic, the Balkan
Nuremberg [ICTY] is not
even anymore a Serbian
Nuremberg, it is just ...
Corriere
 In

the Balkan tragedy,
Milosevic defended a
“multi-ethnicity that
today exists just in
Serbia”. Serbia is now
...
Corriere
 “European Union is
looking at another failed
project in the Balkans.”
Three years ago the
European Union “force...
Corriere
 Belgrade, Podgorica
and Bruxelles hope
that there will be no
violence after the
independence of
Montenegro, cle...
Corriere

Repubblica

 considering

 Serbia

how it was
organized, it must be a
planned massacre. Kandic
thinks that nob...
Corriere


the Federal Republic of
Yugoslavia (Serbia and
Montenegro) is not like the
Nazi Germany, and
Slobodan Milosevi...
Corriere


Serbia in the last
presidential elections showed
to be “mature”, but the
independence of Kosovo will
push Serb...
Corriere

Repubblica

 It

 Viola

will be good to find a
solution in the Balkans
before the 2014, first
centenary of WW...
Corriere

Repubblica


 Halter think that a large
autonomy for Kosovo
inside Serbia was a far
better solution. He
remark...
Corriere

Repubblica

 Serbia

 Serbia

is part of the
Balkans
 Stereotypes: both are
pleagued by
underdevelopment and
...
All

we can say, is that in the two major
Italian newspapers, in the last decade:
 there are negative stereotypes about ...
THANK YOU FOR THE
ATTENTION!
QUESTIONS?
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Images of serbia and the Balkans

  1. 1. Images of Serbia and the Balkans in the last decade: a short investigation conducted on the two major Italian newspapers: “Il Corriere della Sera” and “La Repubblica”. A small contribute for a cultural history of Serbia.
  2. 2. Christian Costamagna PhD candidate in History University of Eastern Piedmont,Italy Intern at the Institute for Contemporary History, Belgrade, Serbia Autumn 2011
  3. 3. I would like to thank the Institute for Contemporary History of Belgrade, and in particular the Director, Prof. dr. Momcilo Pavlovic and the vice-Director Prof. dr. Predrag J. Markovic for giving me this special opportunity. Special thanks
  4. 4. Maria Todorova in her book “Imagining the Balkans” tried to map “Balkanism”, the discourse that led to the negative stereotypes about the Balkans along the history. She used varied sources, from academic to journalistic ones. Somehow, Todorova’s book is a reaction to the war in former Yugoslavia and the mental association between “violence” and “Balkans”. Balkans and stereotypes
  5. 5. Parallel to the image of the Balkans in the West, we have a similar problem, the image of Serbia and Serbs in the West, in particular the perception of Serbs in the 90s of the past century in Western mass media. It is so far an open dispute if the Serbs have been represented as the “bad guys” (Woodward 1995:297; Johnstone 2002:65; Huntington 2001:433; Wiebes 2003:63; Bourg & Shoup 2000:162) or “good guys” (Sadkovich 1998; Anzulovic 1999:7) Serbia and the West
  6. 6.  In the following work I intended to focus on the perception and images of Serbia and the Balkans on the two major Italian newspapers (“Il Corriere” and “La Repubblica”) in the last decade.”Il Corriere della Sera” is a Milan based general-interest newspaper, first in Italy. Its main shareholders are among the biggest financial and industrial groups in Italy. It used to be considered a “conservative” newspaper. “La Repubblica”, based in Rome, is also a generalinterest newspaper. Its main shareholder is the industrialist Carlo De Benedetti. It is openly centre leftist, in favour of “Partito Democratico”. Newspapers and perceptions
  7. 7. My goal is not to ascertain the historical “truth” of those events. I will not question the disputable knowledge of each journalist who wrote about the Balkans and Serbia. It is pretty clear however that we shouldn’t expect from a journalist to be an expert about every single field of the human knowledge. They are not expected to be scientists. Journalists, not academics
  8. 8. Why the last decade? I explicitly avoided the war period. I think it can be even more interesting to see the stereotypes about Serbia and the Balkans without Milosevic in power in Serbia and after the wars. The West strongly supported the DOS coalition before and after the September 2000 Elections. I believe it is easier to find examples of propaganda and/or biased information during an open conflict than during a period of peace. All in all, the stereotypes are hard to die, in any case. Stereotypes after propaganda?
  9. 9. If we want to apply a macro level of analysis of the events I chose, I think that the best one is the path of Serbia toward the European Union. So let’s see the images and stereotypes in the major Italian newspapers (totally almost 1 million readers daily) about Serbia, Serbs and the Balkans, after the wars, toward Europe, through democratization. Serbia & EU
  10. 10. In order to simplify the research, conducted on the free online archives, using keywords, I selected some of the most symbolical events happened in Serbia in the last years:  23rd December 2000 Political Elections  The arrest of Slobodan Milosevic: 31st March 2001  Assassination of Zoran Djindjic: 12th March 2003  Kosovo’s riots -pogrom against Serbs: 17th-19th March 2004  Slobodan Milosevic’s death, 11th March 2006  Montenegro’s independence (referendum): 21st May 2006  Bosnian genocide case (Bosnia vs Serbia), judgment of the International Court of Justice (the Hague): 26th February 2007  Kosovo’s self declaration of independence: 17th February 2008  A few symbolical events
  11. 11. The scope of this work is very limited and it does not pretend to be exhaustive. It can’t offer answers, but it can suggests new ideas. Ideas, not answers
  12. 12. Corriere Repubblica  Serbs  believes in Santa Claus thanks to Vojislav Kostunica “new hero of democracy, new saint, today more popular than Tito and Milosevic himself”. “The first challenge of the new Serbia against the ghosts of the past”. For three months the Western European diplomacies helped strongly Kostunica’s Serbia. This help was essential in order to let the DOS coalition win with an extensive majority the 23rd December elections 23 December 2000 Elections
  13. 13. Corriere  After Milosevic, the West feels guilty towards the Serbs and because of that feeling the West is promising great investments in Serbia, the access to the European Union and the right of Serbia to defend herself from the aggression of Albanian terrorists in the southern part of its territory. The Federal Republic of Yugoslavia deserved this treatment, because she is doing a lot of good work Repubblica  This frightening repetition of the history is not due to cultures prone to extermination, as usually thinks the European public opinion but by the fact that the extermination, in Former Yugoslavia, per se, has never been sanctioned, except with another symmetrical extermination. The results is that the South Slavs are fully aware of the crimes they experienced but they are not aware, or just a little bit, of the crimes they are guilty. 23 December 2000 Elections
  14. 14. Corriere Repubblica   If an hypothetical Nuremberg of the Balkans will reveal that Milosevic is not the evil, but just a political opportunist, and he was not the only one to do mistakes, “it means that the war crime is not an exclusive of Milosevic, nor a Serbian chromosome, nor a characteristic of the Balkans.” The “semi-new Serbia” can finally claim to be a victim of the man, Slobodan Milosevic, responsible for the “Yugoslav carnage”. The trial of Milosevic in Serbia, can be even better than a trial imposed from the West at the Hague, just in case Serbia will be able to face its past. Serbia will have the opportunity to explain to herself why Milosevic had so much popular support while he was orchestrating the ethnical cleansing in Bosnia, an event very similar and very close to the Holocaust. The arrest of Milosevic, 2001
  15. 15. Corriere  “After so many mistakes committed by the West in the old [SFRJ] Yugoslavia we should help the Serbs to get rid of Milosevic, but without giving the impression that this is happening because someone, in a Western capital, issued an ultimatum.” Repubblica  To try Milosevic in Serbia, at least as a first step, could save the Serbian national pride, the opportunity to rebuild the recent history, and to further the democratic process in the country. The arrest of Milosevic, 2001
  16. 16. Corriere  Milosevic considered himself the protector of all Serbs. In fact, after he lose the power, there are more Serbian refugees than Albanians, Croats or Bosnians ones. These peoples suffered due to Milosevic’s politics, but now it’s over Repubblica  “Serb tribe” does not like Milosevic, but does not like also who bombed Serbia and who is forcing Serbian justice with the promise of a bunch of dollars. The arrest of Milosevic, 2001
  17. 17. Corriere Repubblica  “Serbs,  Serbian instead, defeat after defeat, have been expelled from Krajina, from Mostar, Sarajevo, Kosovo.” The Serbian refugees amount to 700,000, like the “population of Turin”. tradition is characterized by paradox and weirdness. Milosevic executed the plan of Great Serbian, as conceived by the intellectuals of the Serbian Academy of Sciences. The arrest of Milosevic, 2001
  18. 18. Corriere  Djindjic was killed because, with his politics, he was the “symbol of the West”. Venturini can’t exclude, in the future, “…the destabilizing chain reactions so typical of Balkan History.” Repubblica  Djindjic was pro Western, and because of that he was not very popular in Serbia. Djindjic’s murder, 2003
  19. 19. Corriere more you know the Balkans, the less you understand them”. Serbia is a weak state, a poor country, forgotten after the “humanitarian bombing”, a land of organized crime; still Serbia is important for the stability of the Balkans, Repubblica  “The  Balkans’ ghosts are coming back. “Shock in Germany, traditionally close to Serbia.” Djindjic’s murder, 2003
  20. 20. Corriere ◦ “The West don’t trust Kostunica and bet on Djindjic, who speaks perfectly German and studies rapidly English. But in the Balkans still counts other languages and codes.” Repubblica  We should fear that Serbia didn’t face her past. The impression is that Zoran Djindjic is the last victim of the never ending Yugoslav war. Djindjic’s murder, 2003
  21. 21. Corriere  In Belgrade“Hate is in the air” and the manifestation is the expression of the failure of the cohabitation of different ethnic groups. Imarisio, talking about the setting to fire of the mosque in Dorcol (Belgrade),says that “nobody condemned that episode. The hate for the Albanians is an interclass feeling”. The very same youth who contested Milosevic in the middle of the 90s, the so called “best part of the [Serbian] society”, now they are crying out ferocious ultranationalist slogans. In this new crisis “the Kosovo Serbs look like victims”. Repubblica  Albanian nationalists wants an independent Kosovo: if so, it will become (and it is even now) just a big centre of crime, trafficking of arms, prostitutes and drugs. There is not difference, according to the journalist, between extreme Albanian nationalists and criminality and gangsters. Kosovo’s pogrom,2004
  22. 22. Corriere  the lack of a Western strategy in the Balkans, give the impression that both Great Albania and Great Serbia are both “plausible” and “rational”. When the Europeans and American in 1995 bombed the Serbs of Bosnia and during the 1999 campaign against Serbia, they stated to do that in order to stop violence and protect civilians,for “humanitarian reasons”. In both cases the result was a mess; it was quite clear that Bosnia and Hercegovina, after Dayton, was a “fictitious state” Repubblica  The independence of Kosovo is not possible without the splitting up of the province, between Albanians and Serbia. But, if we accept this principle of subdivision and resettling of population, so all the entire Balkan region should change its boundaries Kosovo’s pogrom,2004
  23. 23. Corriere  “In Bosnia and in Kosovo we created two soft protectorates”. Instead “of giving Serbia dignity and prosperity, we humiliated her”. Romano states that in the lack of a real solution from the West, in order to solve the problems, we shall “draw a new map of Former Yugoslavia.” If needed, we should “call into question Dayton agreements” and the UN 1244 Resolution. Repubblica  As stated above, this process should lead toward an exchange of populations and of territories, “like at the beginning of the XXth century with the Balkans wars.” Without the Nato soldiers in Kosovo, today, in this province and in other areas of the Balkans, there will be hundreds of thousands of victims. Kosovo’s pogrom,2004
  24. 24. Corriere  The sentence of History is clear: the most responsible for the carnage in the Balkans are Slobodan Milosevic, Radovan Karadzic and Ratko Mladic. If Serbia wants to join the European Union, she must face her past. Venturini thinks that Serbs are not the only responsible for the atrocities of the war in the 90s. Repubblica  Valli, reports the thought of Prof. dr. Joze Pirjevec, about the Serbian mentality, referring to the time of the Kosovo war (1999). “…After the first bombs, instead of collapsing, Milosevic’s Serbia resisted. It was not taken into account properly the mentality of the dictator and the Serbian people, convinced to give the very best of itself under threat.” Milosevic’s death, 2006
  25. 25. Corriere  “After the death of Milosevic, the Balkan Nuremberg [ICTY] is not even anymore a Serbian Nuremberg, it is just a house of cards, a list of victims without justice…”. Repubblica  Milosevic will go down in History as a butcher. The influence of Milosevic over Serbs, was not greater than the influence of Serbs over Milosevic; he was very popular. “Serbia gave him a mission and for many years gave him a genuine consent.” Milosevic’s death, 2006
  26. 26. Corriere  In the Balkan tragedy, Milosevic defended a “multi-ethnicity that today exists just in Serbia”. Serbia is now surrounded by ethnically clean states; initially Belgrade oppressed its neighbors, and later the Serbs in those areas suffered retaliations and ethnic cleansing. Repubblica  “Serbia expiates her sins”, and if she doesn’t approach the European Union, she” will hate the West” and will go back to nationalism, like during the Milosevic’s era. Milosevic’s death, 2006
  27. 27. Corriere  “European Union is looking at another failed project in the Balkans.” Three years ago the European Union “forced” Serbia and Montenegro to create their Union, now she is “dictating the terms of separation.” Repubblica  “How will react the various ethnical components of a state now dissolved – Yugoslavia – yet very dynamics in a boiling context like the Balkans?” Montenegro’s independ. 2006
  28. 28. Corriere  Belgrade, Podgorica and Bruxelles hope that there will be no violence after the independence of Montenegro, clearly remanding to the previous armed conflicts. Repubblica  “The Balkans, a land geographically close, but, at the same time, still very far away culturally [from the West].” “The lands that stretch from Slovenia to Albania, passing through Bosnia and Herzegovina and Serbia and Montenegro, are yet scarcely known to the Western world”. Montenegro’s independ. 2006
  29. 29. Corriere Repubblica  considering  Serbia how it was organized, it must be a planned massacre. Kandic thinks that nobody in the political scene of Serbia is prepared to apologize publicly with Bosnia/Muslims, it is a kind of taboo. It will takes probably decades is “morally condemned but politically saved”. Serbia is “a Balkan state divided between pro-Russia ultranationalists and pro European Union democrats.” Genocide: Bosnia vs Serbia, 2007
  30. 30. Corriere  the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro) is not like the Nazi Germany, and Slobodan Milosevic is not like Adolf Hitler. This thesis, advanced by Bosnia and Herzegovina in the Tribunal, was rejected by the majority of the judges and also by the entire Serbian political class Repubblica  to brand Serbia as a “state guilty of genocide” couldn’t help Serbia toward the European Union. If Serbia had got that infamous “brand”, she had to pay for decades war reparation to Bosnia; if so, Serbia, would sink in the debts, isolated, “branded by the UN”, “condemned to misery”, would have started again to “incubate its historical illness, a homicidal paranoia”. Genocide: Bosnia vs Serbia, 2007
  31. 31. Corriere  Serbia in the last presidential elections showed to be “mature”, but the independence of Kosovo will push Serbia far away from Europe, closer to Russia, because of possible nationalistic reaction. The independence of Kosovo is the logical consequence, according to Nava, of the illegal bombardment of Serbia by Nato in 1999 Repubblica  Garimberti open his article quoting a quotation of Misha Glenny’s book “The Balkans”: “the Balkans are a poison to which Europe has never been able to find the antidote and periodically she remained poisoned by it”. It is still valid today. “The ghost of a new conflict is haunting Europe”. Anyway, according to Garimberti, the independence of Kosovo, per se, is not wrong, just its method. Kosovo’s independence,2008
  32. 32. Corriere Repubblica  It  Viola will be good to find a solution in the Balkans before the 2014, first centenary of WW1 (1914 assassination of the Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria). Also the Balkans should have the right to say “we have a dream” thinks that it is wrong to think about a specific “Balkan character”; a better economical, social and political situation would stop the violence in the Balkans. The great powers have a big share of responsibility in the never ending unrest in the Balkans. Kosovo’s independence,2008
  33. 33. Corriere Repubblica   Halter think that a large autonomy for Kosovo inside Serbia was a far better solution. He remarks that he is not defending Serbia or Serbian nationalism, just the principle of cohabitation in a common country. The violence in the Balkans or in former Yugoslavia is not something typical just of that area. What is really typical is the phenomenon of “Kleinstaaterei”, the endless fragmentation of territories according to ethnical lines of purity. Today this phenomenon is better known as Balkanization. The selfproclaimed independence of Kosovo is part of this kind of Balkanization. Kosovo’s independence,2008
  34. 34. Corriere Repubblica  Serbia  Serbia is part of the Balkans  Stereotypes: both are pleagued by underdevelopment and old hates, violence, irrationality  Serbia, afterall, has its own good reasons and the Balkans: essentially similar to “Il Corriere”  BUT…  Generally Serbia is harshly condemned morally Considerations…
  35. 35. All we can say, is that in the two major Italian newspapers, in the last decade:  there are negative stereotypes about Serbia and the Balkans. On the other hand, we can’t say that “Serbophobia” prevails. Considerations
  36. 36. THANK YOU FOR THE ATTENTION!
  37. 37. QUESTIONS?

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